Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, November 22, 2018


Jo-Carroll Dennison and Kane Richmond
THE MISSING LADY (1946). Director: Phil Karlson.

When a series of murders occur that center on a stolen statue called the "Jade Lady," Lamont Cranston (Kane Richmond) investigates and tries to find out just who is killing whom. This is the third and last of the Monogram "Shadow" pictures and it's a very slight improvement over the first two even if Cranston never appears in costume and "The Shadow" is never even mentioned; Cranston is simply a criminologist, which is why he can hold his own in a fight with one man but is helpless against two guys, one of whom has a gun. For most pulp heroes, even a gang of men would be no problem!

Richmond in the elevator with Almira Sessions and Nora Cecil
The problem with this trio of films is that producer George Callahan should have fired screenwriter George Callahan, who has absolutely no feel for the character. Callahan could turn out excellent scripts, such as the Charlie Chan film The Scarlet Clue, but the comedy in that wasn't so inappropriate. The Missing Lady, like the previous Shadow film Behind the Mask, at least starts out well, with an air of mystery and a bit of suspense, but then we're reintroduced to Margo Lane (Barbara Read) and her maid Jennie (Dorothea Kent) and the silliness begins, although in this entry the gals' involvement is somewhat mercifully limited -- but not enough. The movie really gets loopy with the introduction of two elderly sisters who own the building Cranston lives in and love to play elevator operator, racing up and down the shaft for fun. Pierre Watkin is a little more animated as the commissioner and James Flavin, now playing Inspector Cardona, is suitably apoplectic. George Chandler returns as Shrevvie. The supporting players include Jo-Carroll Dennison as the slinky Gilda; James Cardwell as an insurance investigator; Jack Overman as a husky bad guy named Ox; Frances Robinson [Red Barry] as his wife, Anne; Claire Carleton [Too Many Winners] as the hard-boiled blond, Rose; and the ever-reliable Anthony Warde as the nasty gunsel, Lefty.

Verdict: Stick with The Shadow serial and forget these forgotten "Bs" **. 

1 comment:

Gary R. said...

It would've been interesting if RKO had attempted a Shadow series in the '40s. The Dick Tracy "B" films the studio did in that period were generally respectful of the source material and featured some nice noirish elements.

I seem to recall reading in Barbara Leaming's bio of Orson Welles that Welles wanted Charles Lederer to write a Shadow film script sometime in the '40s, but how far that progressed, if at all, is a mystery.